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'Kill Command' Toronto After Dark 2016 Review: Advanced warfare on a limited budget

October 18, 2016Ben MK

It's the kind of generic-looking film that will show up in your Netflix recommendations queue if you've watched movies like Aliens, The Terminator or Starship Troopers. Still, Kill Command proves to be an entertaining — if not somewhat monotonous — throwback to gritty, '80s-inspired sci-fi action.

Pitting killer robots against their woefully outmatched human counterparts, the film's ridiculously simple plot sees a group of seven U.S. marines deployed to a remote island for training. Accompanied by a technologically-augmented human named Mills (Vanessa Kirby), who's overseeing the mission on behalf of her employer, Harbinger Robotics, the marines soon discover that there's a nefarious purpose behind their presence on the island.

Unfortunately, as the movie progresses, very little is revealed about that purpose, other than the fact that some sentient hulk of a robot wants the marines there so he and his fellow heavily-armed robots can use them as target practice. Nonetheless, visual-effects-artist-turned-writer-director Steven Gomez makes the most of this threadbare premise, using it as the reason for staging a series of increasingly high-stakes man-versus-machine battles.

Speaking of visual effects, it's impressive what the filmmakers have achieved for a fraction of the budget of a major Hollywood blockbuster, as the robot designs convincingly meld real-life robotics research with the aesthetic of films like 2014's RoboCop reboot. That being said, it's also blatantly apparent that the vast majority of the movie's budget has been dedicated to VFX, as the production design in every other regard feels quite basic.

The same can also be said about the characters, none of whom, save for Mills, possess any identifiable characteristics or memorable traits that will allow viewers to recollect their names or faces once the end credits start to roll. Mercifully, however, the actors who have been tasked with these thankless roles do an excellent job working within these constraints; and, as a result, the movie is able to keep the cheese factor to a minimum.

Otherwise, Kill Command has its moments, but it's largely an exercise in mediocrity. Neither good enough to be great nor terrible enough to be considered "so bad it's good," it resonates as a derivative attempt at B-grade science fiction, though it's not one that's completely without merit. Essentially, this is the kind of movie that's best enjoyed as a lazy Sunday afternoon matinee, which, ironically, is exactly how it was screened at Toronto After Dark.

Kill Command is a Special Presentation of Toronto After Dark 2016. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 39 Mins.

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